THE Department of Agriculture-Central Visayas (DA 7) has increased its annual budget to P2.7 billion for 2024 to enhance the region’s production output in response to the reported decline in the production value of specific agricultural sub-sectors in the region.
The 2024 budget is an increase of 28.5 percent from the current P2.1 billion budget, according to Leo Pelletero, project evaluation officer of the DA 7.
The increased budget is meant to address the potential impacts of the strong El Niño phenomenon affecting the country, including Cebu and nearby provinces, as well as other services.
“It will be allocated to various technical support and production support services like agricultural inputs such as seeds and fertilizers, training, agricultural machinery, and equipment,” Pelletero told SunStar Cebu on Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2023.
A significant portion of the overall budget will be allocated to farm-to-market road (FMR) projects.
FMR involves the transportation of agricultural products from the farm to the market for sale to consumers.
He said that about 40 percent of the budget or roughly P1.08 billion, will be designated to support these projects aimed at assisting farmers and fisherfolk in achieving improved prices and broader market reach.
However, he has not yet disclosed which FMR projects they plan to support next year.
Besides the DA’s higher budget, all local government units (LGUs), including both cities and municipalities, are also obligated to allocate a budget to enhance agriculture.
Citing the Supreme Court’s Mandanas-Garcia ruling, he said a 10 percent budgetary allocation from their Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) should be made for the implementation of programs, activities, and services related to agriculture and fisheries. IRA represents the share of revenues that LGUs receive from the national government. Provinces, independent cities, component cities, municipalities, and barangays each receive distinct allotments.
Earlier this month, the Philippine Statistics Authority in Central Visayas (PSA 7) reported that the value of crop production in the region fell to P4.721 billion last year.
Leopoldo Alfanta Jr., chief statistical specialist of the PSA 7, said that the region’s production value fell by 16.9 percent to P23.246 billion in 2022 from P27.967 billion in 2021.
Pelletero said farmlands were vulnerable due to the destruction caused by Super Typhoon Odette (Rai) in December 2021.
“Calamities like typhoons that were experienced in late 2021. That is why the production of crops was heavily affected considering that our farmers are still recovering,” he said.
Meanwhile, there is also a significant decline of P4.518 billion in the value of production in the fisheries sub-sector in 2022.
Data from the PSA 7 showed that fisheries’ value of production plunged 38.1 percent to P7.492 billion in 2022 from P12.01 billion in 2021.
Aside from Super Typhoon Odette, Laila Bragat, information officer of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in Central Visayas (BFAR 7) told SunStar Cebu on Dec. 15 that high fuel prices and climate change also contributed to the decline in production.
The BFAR 7 is an attached agency of the DA.
El Niño phenomenon
“El Niño has become strong and will take effect until by the end quarter of next year but of course, the Department of Agriculture has prepared with plans on how to address this phenomenon,” Pelletero told SunStar Cebu.
He said their current focus is on prepositioning resilient varieties of rice and corn seeds that can withstand drought and distributing them to farmers. He added that rice seeds are in stock in their monolithic dome in Ubay town, Bohol.
El Niño is a natural climate phenomenon occurring in the tropical Pacific Ocean, characterized by elevated sea-surface temperatures. It has a substantial impact on global weather patterns, affecting billions of individuals.
In addition to crops, he said they will allocate biological feeds for livestock and poultry farmers. A biological feed is a product developed using bioengineering technologies, including fermentation engineering, enzyme engineering, protein engineering, and genetic engineering.
In a separate interview last Sept. 12, Gerry Avila, chief of operations of the DA 7, said they are undertaking efforts to prepare around 15,000 hectares of farmland for the distribution of hybrid palay seeds to local farmers.
These hybrid seeds, resulting from the cross-pollination of two superior plants, demonstrate enhanced performance, particularly in nutrient absorption and resistance to pests and diseases.
Avila also disclosed a commitment of a minimum of P90 million for fertilizer subsidies to aid those utilizing hybrid seeds.